Helsinki, Finland – From the 16th to 18th of February, over 70 delegates from across Europe met in Helsinki (Finland) to debate, engage and address key issues and possibilities at the conference ‘Startups leading sustainable change in Europe’.

YEPP President Lidia Pereira stated: “We must and shall provide sustainable change in Europe. It is crucial that Europe’s young generation understands their role in our strong but fragile ecosystem. We hope that participants will gain the necessary knowledge and insights to lead  the EU out of the crises encountered today.”

The conference started with an opening dinner, where our participants had the opportunity to mingle with one another prior to the official programme, but also meet with key start-ups and businesses in Finland including Juho Mäki-Lohiluoma (Confederation of Finnish Industries EK), Mari (Pekonen-Ranta, Finance Finland, FA) and Elsa Korpi (American Chamber of Commerce Finland).

On Friday, the day began with welcome speeches from YEPP President Lidia Pereira, Gabriele Baumann (Head of KAS Nordics) and Eleftheria Katsi (WMCES). This was followed with keynote speeches from Petteri Orpo (President of the National Coalition Party) and Sari Essayah (President of the Christian Democratic party), who highlighted the importance of the youth in the European Union.

The first panel discussion, ‘The Role of youth in startup-ecosystems’ addressed the engagement and accessibility of startups, and welcomed Youssef Zad (Chief Economist, Finnish Startup Community), Samuel Laurinkari (Head of Global Public Policy, Wolt) and Ted Apter (Special Advisor, Finnish Economist).

Our delegates also partook in a Policy Hackathon, with key introductions by Henna Virkkunen (MEP, EPP Group in the European Parliament) and stated: “Startups are the backbone of the European Economy. We must remove the ‘Red Tape’ for these businesses to grow and it is important to find the perfect balance.”

On Saturday, Ida Leino (President of KNL Finland) and Ami Rinta-Valkama (President of KDN Finland) provided key insight into Finland’s political landscape. This was followed by the closing Panel discussion titled ‘The Future of a European NATO’ with key interventions from Jarmo Lindberg (General and former Chief of Defence) and Aappo Pukarinen (EU researcher).

At the conference several resolutions were adopted which covered a plethora of topics including Mental Health, the Food Industry and Azerbaijan’s aggression. These can be accessed here.

The event was organised together with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies and hosted by KNL and KDN Finland.